Greece remains “cautious but acting in good faith” at the talks for confidence-building measures with Turkey, Greek National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said in an interview to RIK TV in Cyprus on Thursday, during an official visit to the island republic.
“We shall persist, because it is good to keep a communication channel (…) with the other side,” as long as it is based on respect for International Law, Panagiotopoulos said.
Responding to Turkey’s demand for demilitarization of Greek islands, the defense minister said that it is Greece’s sovereign right to “take measures to defend its territory when it feels threatened and this threat is valid. If circumstances change, we shall take another look at it.”
He also spoke of the alliances Greece has formed with Cyprus and Egypt as part of its defense diplomacy and said “everyone is welcome to join” the military exercises as long as they share the outlook on creating an environment of safety and stability in the area. The plan to diplomatically and politically isolate Turkey “is effective”, Panagiotopoulos said, as Greece’s allies “have begun to realize how far Turkey’s reformist illegal attitude has gone.”
Panagiotopoulos is in Cyprus since Wednesday, when he and his Cypriot and Egyptian counterparts Charalambos Petrides and General Mohamed Zaki agreed to step up defense and military collaboration.